Even in a win, Twins manager has to shake head

  • Article by: JOE CHRISTENSEN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 5, 2011 - 7:20 AM

Ron Gardenhire knows his team, without many big bats, can't make up for its poor start if it keeps repeating Wednesday's mistakes.

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CHICAGO - The Twins wish they could say Francisco Liriano's no- hitter Tuesday jolted them from their season-long funk, but they knew better, even after defeating the White Sox again Wednesday.

"If we have a lot more of these, the coaching staff's all going to have bad hair just like I do," manager Ron Gardenhire said after the 3-2 victory at U.S. Cellular Field.

Gardenhire pointed to several head-scratching moments at the plate and on the bases, as his team scored fewer than four runs for the 20th time in 29 games.

"I want us to really get back to being a solid fundamental team," Gardenhire said. "When you're missing a lot of your middle-order guys [Joe Mauer, Delmon Young, etc.], you really can't afford to make all those silly mistakes."

Next up is a four-game series at Fenway Park, starting Friday night.

"Going into Boston, I guarantee you we can't afford to do things like that," Gardenhire said. "They'll kill you. They'll absolutely kill you."

To be clear: It was a good trip to Chicago.

Liriano helped the Twins end a six-game losing streak in Tuesday's 1-0 victory.

Nick Blackburn (2-4), who had an 8.27 ERA in his previous three starts, held the White Sox to one run in 6 2/3 innings Wednesday, and Matt Capps got five outs for his fifth save.

Jason Kubel, who is batting .350, followed Tuesday's home run with two more RBI Wednesday.

But teams can't expect to sweep many two-game series by scoring four runs. The Twins (11-18) seemed fortunate to be playing the White Sox, who own the majors' worst record at 11-21.

"That's a good ballclub over there," Capps said. "I think they're kind of in the same boat that we're in this time of year, where things just aren't going well."

At times like this, teams can't afford to derail the few chances they get to score. Some of Gardenhire's concerns included:

• Drew Butera's harmless popout in the second inning. The Twins had a runner on third with one out, and the White Sox had a drawn-in infield.

• Alexi Casilla getting picked off and caught stealing to end the fifth. Denard Span was at the plate with a 2-0 count.

"No reason," Gardenhire said. "Span's got a great eye. You've got a chance to maybe walk, and he's in scoring position anyway."

• Span getting caught stealing at third base to end the seventh. The Twins had runners at first and second with Justin Morneau at the plate.

"There's no reason to run," Gardenhire said. "I mean, I'm looking for Morneau to hit a homer or a double, and he just took off."

No wonder the Twins are averaging an American League worst 3.07 runs per game and have scored more than five just once all season.

Without the two-out RBI hits they received from Kubel (in the first inning) and Rene Tosoni (in the sixth) this easily could have been another loss.

"You can see the confidence starting to build," Gardenhire said. "But you can't knock it down by not playing smart baseball."


    Up next: Four-game series at Boston

    Game 1: 6:10 p.m. Friday • TV: FSN (1500ESPN)

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